Navigating National Convention

For many FFA members, this is your first time attending the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. You’re preparing for the legendary sea of blue that your agriculture teachers have told you about. You’re packing for the unpredictable weather of Indianapolis. Most of all you’re preparing for all the memories and experiences you’re going to make in one of the best weeks out of the year. But what are you supposed to do with all the amazing opportunities at National Convention? How do you decide which sessions to attend and places to tour. Here is a guide to help you navigate all the wonderful opportunities.

 

Attend the career expo

The career expo is a great way to learn about thousands of job opportunities while riding a mechanical bull. At the main convention hall, there are over 2 acres of booths and education that you should be sure to check out.

 

Get signatures in the back of the guidebook

Part of attending National convention is meeting people from all over the country. In the back of the guidebook, there is a section to get signatures from each state and some special signatures too. This is a great way to make new friends from dozens of states.

 

Attend multiple sessions

Whether you attend a session for your favorite national officers retiring address or because your chapter is receiving an award. It is always a great experience to attend multiple sessions and hear what the speakers have to say, and see how amazing chapters around the country are.

 

Check out the agriscience fair

The agriscience fair is a great way to learn about the advancements in agriculture and hear from the future of agriculture talk about their passion. You never know you might find a new passion.

 

Take a photo with a cowboy hat and lasso

There are many photo challenges that take place at National convention. But a vital part of gaining the full experience of convention is finding the cowboy hat booth at the FFA mall. Whether you get a crazy color or stick with the classic brown cowboy hat it is essential to take a photo wearing one.

 

Shop the FFA mall

Going along with the cowboy hat, the FFA mall is one of the most amazing stores there is. There are cowboy boots, phone cases, hundreds of different types of shirts, and so much more! If you’re obsessed with FFA apparel like I am, your little FFA heart will be overwhelmed.

 

Learn new accents

One of the coolest things to do when meeting new people is to play around with their accents. Coming from a very southern area, it is pretty strange hearing people call “coke” something like “pop” or “soda.”  So while you’re meeting new people ask them to say a couple of words to see if they speak differently.

 

Check out the hall of states

Hall of States is where representatives from each state bring crops and commodities from their state and teach you about the state. This is something like a mini cross-country road trip without spending all that money on gas.

 

Attend the rodeo and concert

How often do you get to go to a concert with a huge group of your friends and hang out and listen to some awesome music? That’s exactly what the concert and rodeo offer. You get to watch the worlds toughest rodeo and listen to the amazing Rascal Flatts and Runaway Jane. You get to experience these events without having to deal with all the other outside distractions.

 

Use the Everything Agriculture hashtag on posts

If you’re posting a pic of FFA way, Indianapolis Speedway, or some awesome pics of you and your chapter, we want to see them! At your time in Indy, we want to see how everyone experiences National Convention. So when you post use our hashtag #EAat90!

 

Have a great convention everyone, and stay safe!

 

-Lisandra Mejia

Vice President/Editor for Everything Agriculture

Hurricane Harvey’s Impact on Agriculture

photo creds: https://foodtank.com/news/2017/09/hurricane-harveys-agricultural-impact/

 

There’s a lot going on in the news today, but I want to bring an important topic to your attention This topic is Hurricane Harvey. As you may know in Texas there has been one of the biggest hurricanes ever. Many lives have been lost and this is a tragic time for many families. The hurricane has also been a big impact on agriculture. Many things including gasoline and many kinds of animals. So what can we do to help with this.  What impacts does it have on agriculture?      

 

One of the the biggest things about this hurricane is that this storm has taken 44 lives and it’s not over yet (at the time i’m writing this). Families have been stranded on and in their cars. People were not expecting or warned about all the rain that was coming their way. So some decided to stay and ignore evacuation warnings.

 

The second biggest thing would be the animals in Texas. Since they did not evacuate in time many animals perished when the storm hit.This has not been covered greatly in the news. This is a truly sad thing to see how  many have died. Many pets have been abandoned and  will not survive. As many cattle and food animals have died this will affect all of us. There has been an estimated $150 million dollars worth of agriculture commodities that have been lost due to the hurricane. This impacts America’s economy and the consumer. That’s us, we are the consumer. So that means that some food prices are going to go up a lot because of the crop loss. Our grocery store isn’t the only thing that will be impacted so will our gas pumps.

 

As noticed by many Americans gasoline and diesel prices have gone up. This is due to the storm stopping some of or imports. Since some of the biggest producers of oil is in Texas then that means that there isn’t as much fuel in the US as there normally is. With means the demand for gasoline goes up. When demand goes up so does prices, this is affecting every person who drives a car, and the majority of transportation agencies. Hopefully soon prices will drop as we clean up and get imports and trucks moving in Texas.

 

I’ve told you the problems that are happening because of this hurricane, but how can we help. We can donate to help with the cause either it being our time or labor. A big light on this topic is all of the attention this topic is getting. With a lot of famous people are noticing this tragic event. And are going down with boats to help save people. This event has shown that we can all come together and work together to make the world a better place.

-Noah Bennett Everything Agriculture Writer

If you want to donate follow these links to help provide relief

https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey

https://www.habitatforhorses.org/support/fy17hurricaneharvey?utm_source=1708hurricanehpslider&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=fy17hurricane

https://muttnation.com/foundation/#

 

The Comfort Of A Cow Named Dudley

The story of Dudley the Hereford steer starts out at an auction house in Tennessee and a farmer. The farmer had seen that Dudley’s left back leg was wrapped in baling twine, this caused him to lose his foot. The farmer took him in and called The Gentle Barn. Dudley had gotten a second chance at life. The Gentle Barn originated in 1999 based in California but expanded their rescue to Knoxville, Tennessee just for Dudley.

 

The farmer who had rescued Dudley farmed cattle for a living. He had to keep Dudley and treated his foot with antibiotics for 10 months before they had found The Gentle Barn. He turned Dudley over to The Gentle Barn. Since he could not afford to have medical care or a prosthetic foot made. The farmer drove three hours with Dudley to a veterinary hospital. Dudley had a long road of recovery ahead.

 

Dudley had suffered tendon damage from hobbling around on 3 legs. It caused him major pain to have to walk on his amputated leg even though his main reaction was trying to use it. Dudley had to undergo surgery to fix his leg for his prosthetic which went very successfully. Afterward was a whole different story, they needed to keep Dudley laying down so he would not cause any further injury. It had taken awhile but they were also successful in that as well. They spent well over 60 hours creating a prosthetic for missing parts below his hook. At first, like all cows would, he was not all for the idea of having a prosthetic. He would kick his leg out of the hands of the handler, but eventually, he got used to his prosthetic leg. After several months of therapy, Dudley got to be a cow again. He got to run and live a fulfilled life.

 

When they finally got to pull Dudley out of the animal hospital, he was filled with joy bouncing and bucking around the field he was released into. From then on he has been able to lead a happy life. He has even gotten married! Dudley got married to a female bovine named Destiny. You can read an article about Destiny’s rescue here. To tie into my article about equine therapy, Dudley was also a therapy cow. He helped people with amputations of their own feel more confident and comfortable with it just as he was with his. Dudley was a strong young steer and very playful. Dudley visited schools, helped foster children learn more about themselves. Dudley has made a huge impact with his story and thousands love him!

 

Unfortunately, Dudley passed away when a stomach ulcer ruptured and was irreparable. The Gentle Barn staff deeply misses Dudley since he was the reason for the expansion of their operation.

 

To read more about Dudley

Dudley’s life:

http://www.gentlebarn.org/animals/stories/dudley-cow-tn

The Dudley Story:

http://www.gentlebarn.org/the-dudley-story

Dudley on USA Today:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/21/dudley-steer-prosthetic-foot-and-mascot-gentle-barn-tennessee-has-died/417901001/

Destiny’s Story:

http://www.gentlebarn.org/animals/stories/destiny-cow-tn

Cover photo:

http://www.pawmygosh.com/dudley-cow/

 

Kelcie Lynn, Everything Agriculture Writer

 

The Positives of Equine Therapy

When the word therapy comes to mind, we typically think about talking to someone about their issues or having physical therapy to help heal injuries. In fact, there are more than a hundred different types of therapy. One that is not as well known is equine therapy. Equine therapy helps people with addiction and disorders. This type of therapy can help in several different ways by helping the patient gain confidence, learning to problem solve, gaining assertiveness, control of impulse, and responsibility.

As anyone who rides a horse knows, there is no stronger bond than the one between a rider and the horse. Therefore equine therapy can teach the patient to learn to trust and build a healthy relationship with the horse. Being around a horse can give one a sense of peace and relaxation. Around horses one must be quiet not to startle or spook a horse; making it very peaceful Horses do like to be spoken to, so they are great to talk to when needed. It may seem funny to be talking to an animal that can not understand what you are saying, but in a way, they can understand how their rider is feeling. In the hit TV show Heartland that is based on an equine rehabilitation center; Amy Fleming is the horse expert. After the death of her mother, she becomes very depressed and decides she doesn’t want to work with horses anymore. After she goes back to the barn, she connects with a horse which brings her out of her depression and sparks a passion in her. Horses have the capability of helping people emotionally and mentally.

Horses are amazing, quick learning animals hence why they are great to work with in therapy. In sessions of equine therapy patients do several trust-building activities such as learning how to groom their horse, including picking up their hooves and cleaning them out. The patients also get to observe horse behavior and the horses herd dynamics and relate it to their own life. Horses are quick to build a bond with people and associate them with members of their herd, therefore, making them domesticated. Another issue horses are known for helping is someone who battles addiction.

People with addiction have learned that feelings are painful and often try to avoid them with this “way out” by turning to drugs. Horses are wonderful at detecting emotions as stated above and act out the way someone is feeling. For example, a person who is feeling anxious or scared of the horse and the horse echoes this message back which can make the patient more aware of their feelings and their effects. They have a great way of sensing what is going on in someone’s life and they try to help them.

Horses are large animals and can seem scary, but it is all about trusting them. Even if they are larger, it shows the patient that they can trust the horse to listen to them. This can make someone a more open trusting person but it can also help them set boundaries. Horses are a smart animal, sometimes though they can be known as bossy. The horse being bossy has the potential to teach a patient how to set boundaries for the horse, basically telling them what is right and what is wrong. These animals can also be like children who will poke and prod at every end to figure out what is allowed and what is not.

A part of the session, clients or patients gets to ride. Horses have an item in their mouth called a bit that can signal directions as to which direction to go. As well as tapping their sides gently with the heel tells them to move forward and change speeds. This teaches the client to communicate their intentions with the horse, this can build trust and better communication.

Horses work their way into our hearts and change our life. For some they are just a friend and for some they impact a person’s life so much that they revolve their life around them. Nelly Jacob’s was a 87 year old woman who had rode horses all her life. She did shows, won ribbons, she had a bond with horses. At 51 she showed signs of Parkinson’s disease. Eventually she was wheelchair bound but all she wanted to do was ride a horse one last time. With some help from supporters she was able to do that. The smile she had, was one that her family hadn’t seen in awhile. The influence horses have on our lives are unimaginable.

What I want you to get out of this article and what most people realize from sessions of equine therapy, are horses and humans have a lot in common. Some horses have dark past just as we do, but with work they can become great horses. There are many lessons taught in this kind of therapy, but they all seem to tie together to lead to a better, healthy, trusting life. It helps to see the light at the end of the long tunnel.

-Kelcie Bousman

Writer for Everything Agriculture

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Agriculture From Coast to Coast

Agriculture: the science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products. As we all know agriculture is more than farming, but it is also not just a local thing. This is a worldwide occupation, but for the purpose of this article, we will focus on the national impact. If you would like to further your knowledge click on each state you are interested in to learn more about.

Alabama–  Alabama is 2nd in broiler (poultry)  production in the nation.

Alaska– There are 762 farms in Alaska.

ArizonaYuma, Arizona is the winter lettuce capital of the world.

Arkansas– Arkansas ranks 1st in the nation in rice production.

CaliforniaCalifornia produces more than 400 animal and plant commodities annually

ColoradoThere are over 1 billion eggs laid in Colorado each year.

Connecticut– Connecticut has over 70,000 acres of land devoted to shellfish farming

Delaware– 41% of Delaware’s land is used for farming.

Florida– Florida is responsible for producing 63% of the nation’s citrus production

Georgia-One in seven Georgians works in agriculture, forestry or related fields.

Hawaii Hawaii ranks sixth in the nation for tree nut sales.

Idaho– Idaho is the #1 producer of potatoes in the nation making up 30% of the nation’s potato production.

Illinois– Illinois is the #1 producer of soybeans in the nation producing over 560,000 bushels.

Indiana – Indiana produces the most ducks in the country.

Iowa– Iowa is the #1 producer of corn in the nation producing over 2.7 billion bushels.

Kansas– Kansas is the #1 producer of wheat in the nation producing over 467 million bushels.

Kentucky– Kentucky is the #7 state in broiler chicken production, also Kentucky has a big equine industry employing over 40,000 people.

Louisiana– Louisiana is one of the top producers of sugar and rice, also Louisiana leads the country in crawfish production.

Maine– Maine leads the nation in wild blueberry production and is 2nd in maple syrup production.

Maryland– Maryland has one of the top poultry industries in the country selling over 300 million broiler chickens.

Massachusetts– Massachusetts is one of leading state of Greenhouse and Nursery.

Michigan– Michigan is one of the country’s top producers of apples, blueberries and cherries also Michigan is one of the country’s leading producers of sugar beets.

Minnesota– Minnesota is the country’s leader in sugar beet production, producing over 34% of all sugar beets of the United States. Also, Minnesota produces the most turkeys in the country.

Mississippi – Mississippi is the number one state of catfish and also one of the top states in sugarcane and rice production.

Missouri – Missouri accounts for 6% of the soybeans and rice produced in the United States.

Montana – In Montana the average ranch is over 2000 acres big.

Nebraska – In Nebraska 1 in 4 jobs are agriculture related.

Nevada – Nevada has over 5.8 million acres of ranches.

New HampshireMilk and greenhouse/nursery crops account for more than half of the state’s agricultural sales receipts.

New Jersey– New Jersey produced over 63 million pounds of bell peppers in 2016.

New Mexico- Roughly 10,000 families have cattle in New Mexico.

New York – New York had one of the most diverse agriculture industries in the country.

North Carolina -There are more pigs than people in North Carolina.

North Dakota – 90% of all land in North Dakota is used in the agriculture industry.

Ohio– Ohio is the number one producer of Swiss cheese in the country.

Oklahoma – Oklahoma is the 5th leading state for beef production.

Oregon – Oregon is the number one state for Christmas tree production.

Pennsylvania- Almost 70 percent of Pennsylvania’s farm income comes from livestock product sales.

Rhode Island– 8.2 million oysters are harvested each year from Rhode Island.

South Carolina– Agriculture produces $42 billion dollars annually for South Carolina.

South Dakota– Every year 3 million acres of wheat are planted.

Tennessee– There is more of variety of trees in Tennessee than any other state

Texas– Agriculture employs one out of every seven working Texans

Utah– Beef makes up 69%  of Utah’s farm cash receipts

VermontVermont is the largest hay-producing state in New England.

VirginiaThe average farm size in Virginia is 179 acres

Washington– Making up 70% of apple production for the Nation, Washington is the top producer in the nation.

West Virginia– 95% of the farms in West Virginia are family owned

Wisconsin– Wisconsin is ranked first in cheese and cranberry production.

Wyoming Wyoming is the headwater of four major water drainage basins.

 

Each state is unique in every aspect you look at. There are a lot more facts about each state that are impactful and incredible, but we only did one fact for each state. If you have a fact about your state please message us, we would love to hear it! Be sure to share this with each state FFA association and agriculture organization.

-Lisandra Mejia

VP/Editor for Everything Agriculture

Will Atkinson

Writer and Marketer for Everything Agriculture

 

Before I Joined FFA I…

Before I joined FFA I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had no clue about the diversity of agriculture. I was one of the last people you would have picked to be a public speaker. I had leadership skills but didn’t know how to use them. Before I joined FFA, I thought it was just a group of farmers. All these things and more that have changed since I joined FFA. I hope that you can relate to this list of Before I joined FFA I…

Had never run on so little sleep

During national convention and FFA week, sleep is for the weak. Being a devoted member or officer means being at school really late and waking up super early. Whether the waking up is for SAE purposes or practicing for a competition, sleep is not on your priority list.

Had never woke up at 4 to go to school

Personally, I would rather get to school at 5 to practice for a CDE than to show up at 8:30 and do quadratic formulas.On the day of competitions, there are chapters who travel 5+ hours to get to the area of competition. Either way waking up at 4 am is no big deal to an FFA member.

Never studied for days

The days before competition are some of the stressful days there are. You think of everything that could go wrong so you prepare to prevent that. You learn every little detail on the subject in because you don’t want to miss the little things. Studying for CDE’s is time-consuming. Especially when you are voluntold by your advisor 3 days before the competition.

Had never felt the stress of competitions, applications, etc.

Competitions, proficiency awards, degree applications, chapter awards, officer applications, scholarship applications, and actual school work. This list does not even begin to cover what FFA stress over. Most FFA members work along with keeping up full-time SAE. It’s no wonder that FFA members are stressed to the max. Eventually, all the stress and hard work turn into achievements and accomplishments, so I guess it’s worth all those gray hairs.

Had never gone through 20 pairs of pantyhose in a week

Guys may not be able to agree with this one but girls… come on yall know about this struggle. Going to any convention, competition or trip you always have to take extra pairs of pantyhose. For a day trip, the average female FFA member will take 2-3 pairs of pantyhose. That is for one day! I get that pantyhose are a major part of the official dress, but they can get very annoying.

Had never learned about such diverse topics

Before joining FFA I thought agriculture was just farming. After joining and taking agriculture courses I learned that agriculture is such a broad topic. Agriculture is business, technology, politics, research, education, leadership, growing crops, taking care of animals, and so much more. While agriculture has many aspects FFA focuses on each one of them. It amazed me that FFA had competitions on vet science, public speaking, agriculture business management, tractor safety, etc. Through FFA and agriculture classes,  I learned the diversity of agriculture that I would have never learned anywhere else.

Had never had so many doors open

The opportunities with FFA are endless! The opportunity to travel across the country is one that does not need to be passed up. Whether it’s traveling across your state and realizing what all your state has to offer, or going to Indianapolis, Indiana; the traveling opportunities are unrealistic. Not only is traveling a big plus there are so many other opportunities. The opportunity to make friends across the country and even outside of the US. The most outstanding opportunity is the career opportunities. The National FFA Organization gives away 2.2 million dollars in scholarships. This does not include all the other scholarship chances from other organizations for students pursuing a career in agriculture. Not to mention the thousands of careers opening up every year in the agriculture industry.

Had never had to memorize so many things

The five-paragraph belief statement of The National FFA Organization or also known as the FFA Creed; was one of the hardest things I’ve had to memorize. In the agriculture courses in my school, it is required for all agriculture students to recite the beloved creed. Along with reciting the motto. While our motto is just 12 words it’s worth the FFA members means far more than just 12 words.

Had never realized what I am capable of

Through the help of my advisor and fellow members I have discovered there is no limit to my goals. I am capable of anything I set my mind to. FFA has shaped and molded me into the leader I want to see in the world. I never knew what kind of influence I could exert in my home and community until I joined FFA.

Hadn’t found my passion

I always knew I had a passion for helping and teaching others. When I started my agriculture classes as a freshman I was exposed to the world of agriculture. After learning about agriculture and getting involved in FFA, I discovered I had a passion for agriculture. After talking to my agriculture teacher and discovering more about the career path of agriculture education I realized that is what I am meant to do.  I am not the first student to find their passion through FFA. FFA opens up our minds to the variety of careers and helps us find what we want to spend the rest of our lives doing.

Had never worn corduroy

The classic blue corduroy jacket. The symbol of The National FFA Organization all throughout history. Before FFA, corduroy was probably not a huge part of our wardrobe. Since joining FFA the jacket has become a valuable piece of memorabilia to members across the country. It stands for the dedication, hard work, leadership and memories that have made members into who they are today.

Had never found an organization in which everyone believed in the future of agriculture

“I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds” The first line of the belief statement of The National FFA Organization. 600,000 current members know the creed and believe it with full hearts. Never before FFA had I met more dedicated and enthusiastic students. When I look at the students I have met and the students I have heard about, I know that America’s future is in good hands. The students of FFA are the future of agriculture.

Since I’ve joined FFA I’ve learned and experienced all these things. I now know what I want to do with my life. I also know the diversity and importance of agriculture. I believe in myself more when it comes to public speaking. I’ve learned to use my leadership skills and develop them into stronger skills. Since I’ve joined FFA I know the organization is more than farmers.  Its seekers, public speakers, teachers, technologist, politicians, scientist, accountants and so much more. Since I’ve Joined FFA I have become a better person, a better leader,  a better friend, and better, advocate. Thank you to The National FFA Organization for everything you have given me and taught me.

Lisandra Mejia

COO & Editor

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Livestocknation: Agriculture Leadership

Some of us are aware of the recent wildfires that have affected many farms in the United States. This has been a very tragic event, not just for farmers and ranchers, but for people throughout the United States.

 

One thing I’ve noticed is that even during challenging moments, farmers are there to support each other. Hundreds of semi-trucks helped in the relief effort by delivering many items that farmers were in dire need of, such as fencing, livestock feed, bales of hay, etc. This type of action shows that agriculture is not just about raising cows and using plows.

 

It’s about lending a hand to a fellow neighbor and doing what’s right. Being a part of agriculture means so much more than raising crops or plants. It’s about leadership.

 

Livestocknation,

A fellow agvocate

 

“Thank you Livestocknation for writing an article for us. If you want to see more from Livestocknation follow her on Instagram. She has an agmazing Instagram account and is an awesome friend!” ~ Randolph Rego Founder of Everything Agriculture

 

Make sure to follow us and Livestocknation on Instagram!

The Power in numbers

How many members are in your FFA chapter? 500? 300? 50? 8? The number doesn’t matter, what matters is the influence that FFA has in each one of its members. You could have 1,000 members but how many are going to come to the meetings, compete in CDE’s. Not even mentioning how many would attend leadership conferences and grow as a leader.

 

In my chapter, we have 37 members. Compared to a lot of schools from my state we are a rather small chapter. While we might be small we have so many members that are passionate about agriculture and truly hold an inborn fondness. This past FFA week was our first FFA week we were able to hold for our school; since our new agriculture teacher. This year we have had the opportunity to hold a staff breakfast and the support from students and teachers was phenomenal. Almost every teacher had a button on that said: “I support FFA.” FFA week was a way for us to say “Hey, we might not have a lot of members, but are part of a national organization that makes a difference!”

 

I used my own chapter as an example to prove that there is power in numbers. Even if the numbers are small you can make a difference. My chapter is 37 members out of 649,355 FFA members nationally. The amazing thing about FFA is that we are all in different aspects, but we are all working towards the same goal. The number of bright young minds that are developing in classrooms everywhere; and will be advancing the agriculture industry.

 

The number of future agriculturalists is astonishing from current FFA and 4-H members alone. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of children who will be involved in agriculture when they get older. There are so many people involved in agriculture globally, that there is no reason for the millions of people around the world should go hungry. With the population that we have, we should be able to destroy world hunger. This achievement is in reach of us, every year we get one year closer to ending world hunger. With more and more people getting involved we are coming to a conclusion on this battle. Currently, the numbers are on our side. The National FFA organization has the power of numbers.

 

Lisandra Meija,

Everything Agriculture Editor & Writer

Fight for Provo Ag! (Why your school cannot end its FFA Chapter)

Provo, Utah is home to a great FFA Chapter. Provo FFA has been around for a while and is a successful chapter. Provo school has received a grant to build a new school! But, Provo Ag has received the news that”Agriculture is not that important to put money and time in”. Provo FFA’s president created a video a couple of days ago spreading this issue. I want Provo High school and any other high school thinking about ending agriculture education at their school why ending FFA is a horrible decision. At the bottom is how to help and directly below are 5 reasons a school cannot end FFA.

FFA educates students on agriculture

I’m sure that if you are reading this you probably already know that FFA is about agriculture education. Students enrolled in an agriculture class learn so much. Whether it be how to properly take care of the plant (Yes, there is too much water), or how to stay safe around animals. An ag class also teaches all the work that goes into agriculture products and all the regulations on products. Agriculture is also hands-on education, there are so many things a student will learn in the intro to ag class.

FFA prepares students for a career

Most people outside of FFA think that FFA is just about becoming a farmer. FFA changed its name to National FFA organization in 1988 for a reason, FFA is more than farming. FFA does encourage a career in agriculture, but FFA prepares students for any career. Agriculture curriculum makes SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) mandatory. A common SAE is raising animals (Ownership/Entrpenaership). The FFA website goes in depth on all the types of SAEs.

FFA also has CDEs (Career Development Events). CDEs prepare students in more than 25 different events. Some such as vet science prepare students on vet skills while others such as job interview or marketing plan teach skills that can go into almost any job. FFA has a list of all of the CDEs.

FFA is leadership and teamwork

FFA teaches and encourages leadership and team. There are so many opportunities in FFA is development leadership skills. Every SAE requires good leadership. A majority of CDEs require students to be on a team. Greenhand conference, Winter leadership, Summer camp, state convention, and so much more teaches students leadership and teamwork. FFA members also have the opportunity to run for chapter office and can climb the ladder to becoming a state or even a national officer. As an officer myself, I know that being an officer you’ll learn how to be a great leader, work as a team, and even have fun.

FFA is Fun!

There is nothing more fun than going to a conference to be able to meet new people and see old friends. Even in your chapter, there is so much fun that is always awaiting you. All the inside jokes and nicknames you will get that come and go, but you will never forget. Even as a greenhand freshman I have had so much fun in my chapter.

FFAmily

In FFA everyone gets so close you feel like a family. The ag room is like a second home to me. My advisor is like a second mother. My fellow members are like brothers and sisters to me. Even as a freshman, I am never treated differently. We all respect each other and through thick and thin we are always there for each other.

Do you really want to end your FFA chapter? FFA is the only club that teaches you about an industry, employment skills, leadership, and is fun all in one.

For those in FFA, can you image losing all of this? Please email provoffa@gmail.com a letter about what FFA means to you and what FFA has done for you. It takes 15 minutes and it will save an FFA chapter. And check out the video below

 

Randolph Rego

Everything Agriculture Owner & CEO

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The Ag Teacher Shortage

If you are involved in an agriculture organization, whether it’s FFA or 4-H you’ve heard the biggest challenge we are facing; the agriculture teacher shortage. Programs are closing, chapters are shrinking and students aren’t getting involved in the most important industry to mankind. With a growing industry with such high demand, our industry needs more students to choose a path in agriculture. How can we do that if we don’t have enough teachers to encourage them and teach them about the industry? Let’s go back to the beginning; where it all started, the Smith-Hughes act.

 

1917. The year the Smith-Hughes act was passed. The purpose of the Smith-Hughes act was to promote vocational agriculture to train people who wanted to go into an agriculture related field. The act also provided federal funds for this purpose. Back in the early 1900’s agriculture was a big deal almost everyone grew up on a farm. So farming took precedence over education, mainly because most people would just end up back on the family farm. So to get more students an education they developed agriculture courses for males to attend. So the guys went to ag classes to learn to farm and girls went to home ec to learn how to cook and do other household items. Until 1969 that is. When girls could join FFA. Now more than 70% of leadership roles in the organization are filled by girls.

 

Jump forward to the present; to Ag classes today. Every Ag classroom across America is filled with bright minds that will eventually be the next CEO of a company, a politician focused on agriculture, a scientist that works on ways to prevent diseases for crops, or maybe even an Ag teacher. But who will inspire them, who will activate a passion, who will get them involved, who will guide them? The answer, Ag teachers. The sad part is not every student that has a passion for Ag, has the opportunity to learn from an Ag teacher. In 2015, 42 programs closed due to no Ag teacher or lack of funding. If each program had 10 students that would be 420 students who would not be able to learn about the industry that they love. That was 2015 alone, there has been many schools who have not had a program for years, some may have never had one. When you think of how many students go without having their full potential reached, it is heartbreaking.

 

In the year 2015 there were 1,028 open positions in agriculture education. And the number keeps growing. Many Ag teachers who have taught for years are going into retirement leaving their position unfilled. Nationwide 248 Ag teachers went into retirement, 619 left teaching altogether, 207 teachers are not licensed to teach agriculture. Those are just a few statistics on the matter.

 

But why would there be so many positions open? Wouldn’t so many people love to teach students about agriculture and continue their journey in FFA, but as an advisor? This is the mindset of a lot of students who go into agriculture education.  “A lot of former FFA members go into it thinking it will be fun and a continuation of their FFA career, then realize there’s more to it than that and they don’t stay for long; which creates a huge turnover. Teaching Ag is a high paced and stressful job and that is what turns a lot of people away from it. In order for a program to be successful a lot of work has to be done, it takes a great time commitment and little monetary compensation and most people aren’t willing to do that.Your heart really has to be in it, and the rewards that come from it are more enjoyable than any monetary compensation, just knowing you’ve made a difference for a least one kid.”- A very wise Ag teacher

 

The previous paragraph wasn’t to scare you, it was to inform that Ag Ed isn’t just about FFA there is a lot that goes on. Ag teachers never have the same day twice, each day they are faced with new challenges and obstacles.  If you are willing to devote your life to developing students for the real world, not just the agriculture industry, then Ag Ed might be for you. If you are willing to spend 99.9% of your time on your job working on papers and applications and tests, then Ag Ed might be for you. If you are willing to not make a lot of money, but instead help make a difference in a student’s life then Ag Ed might be for you. If you are willing to work for hours and hours and not get any praise, then Ag Ed might be for you. If you are dedicated to education and hold a passion for agriculture, then Ag Ed might be for you.

 

If you are considering going into agriculture education there are 99 colleges across America that offer Ag Ed. But first, do the research, talk to past and present Ag teachers, see if it’s really for you. We need strong and devoted young adults to hold a passion for teaching agriculture so we can help shrink the Ag teacher shortage and eventually have enough teachers to fill all the positions needed.

Lisandra Mejia

Everything Agriculture Writer & Editor

 

If you are interested in learning more about the Ag teacher shortage and the Teach Ag campaign follow this link to National Association of Agricultural Educators website:

http://www.naae.org/teachag/index.cfm

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